UPDATE: Town councillor resigns after new Cromer mayor shuns chain and podium

A new mayor's appointment and decision to shun the chain of office at meetings has sparked a walkout by one councillor and the resignation of another.

Media man Greg Hayman, 52, whose most recent role was head of communications at Cambridge University, took the helm of Cromer Town Council after beating off challenges from more experienced colleagues.

He stood for Labour at the recent district elections, but despite stressing he wanted to represent the whole town 'not the left or right, old or new' his appointment saw veteran town councillor Vera Woodcock walk out of the annual meeting.

She claimed the outcome, which saw Mr Hayman poll six votes to the five of district councillor John Lee and three of county councillor Hilary Thompson, ignored her earlier plea to keep politics out of the town council chamber.

His opening gambit having been chosen for the chair was to decline to wear the chain of office to run the meeting and refuse to sit in the elevated mayoral seat – preferring to sit at the same level as other councillors.

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'I don't regard myself as higher than anyone else and I don't do bling,' he told the meeting. 'I respect the office not the baubles.'

Mr Lee, who was nominated as deputy mayor but refused to stand, has now resigned from the council, stressing it was not sour grapes from being beaten, but because of his disgust at the disrespect for the chain of office which many people had worn with pride.

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The 47-year-old fishermen posted his letter at 3.30am in the morning on his way to sea, adding: 'There are pictures of my grandfather Shrimp Davies and great great uncle Henry Blogg in the council chamber and they would have been disgusted by that kind of behaviour.'

After the meeting Mr Hayman said his commitment to the town council was non-political and was keen to make the council more relevant and accessible to people so they could put their views across.

Mr Hayman was born in Surrey but his mother's family has long stranding links in Norfolk. He has had a home in Cromer for 14 years, moved to the town two years ago and was co-opted onto the council in April last year.

His media career has involved management and public relations as well as a spell as researcher for Sir David Frost, and involvement with pioneer breakfast show TVam, and iconic radio shows Desert Island Discs and Gardeners' Question Time .

Mr Hayman is looking at turning a hobby into a job with a career switch to being an artist and is training at the Norwich University College of the Arts.

He told councillors his manifesto was to 'do things faster, better and cheaper' for the sake of local council tax payers.

Gwen Smith was chosen as deputy mayor.

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